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[] LT 17.11.02: Pentagon Readies Microwave Bomb For Baghdad,

London Times
November 17, 2002

Pentagon Readies Microwave Bomb For Baghdad

By Tony Allen-Mills, Washington

THE Pentagon has accelerated development of a new generation of advanced 
precision weaponry that could be ready for use in a high-tech battle for 
Baghdad, according to US military sources.

Weapons ready for battlefield deployment include a microwave bomb that 
emits powerful pulses of energy to destroy enemy electronics, disable 
communications and even block vehicle ignitions, without hurting bystanders.

Defence researchers have also successfully tested a radical thermobaric 
warhead ? previously described as a "vacuum bomb" ? to be aimed at 
suspected chemical and biological stockpiles. The warheads are designed to 
produce a heat so intense that any contaminants released into the 
atmosphere are neutralised instantly.

After the success in Afghanistan of military innovations such as 
precision-guided bunker-busting bombs and remote-controlled Predator 
drones, Pentagon officials have been racing to develop previously 
experimental weapons that might prove invaluable should US troops be 
ordered into action in Iraq.

"We always want to be able to exploit developmental systems," said General 
Gregory Martin, commander of US air forces in Europe. "We'll use all 
techniques possible."

Military scientists have long been intrigued by the potential harnessing of 
microwave technology to paralyse enemy capabilities. The US air force used 
a related technique to disable Yugoslavian power grids during the Kosovo 

Since then, research has advanced so rapidly that US officials believe a 
single microwave device carried by an unmanned aircraft could hit 100 
targets with 1,000 pulses of high-intensity energy on a single sortie.

Military analysts believe that microwave bombs could be particularly useful 
against Republican Guard and other defences around Baghdad. Known as 
directed-energy weapons, they destroy electronic systems but ? in theory at 
least ? do not harm people or damage buildings.

Among the Pentagon's other concerns is that an aerial assault on a 
suspected biological or chemical stockpile might inadvertently release 
toxic substances into the air.

Earlier this year the US Naval Surface Warfare Center began working with 
Lockheed Martin Corp, a prominent US defence contractor, to produce a 
thermobaric warhead known as "agent defeat".

The upgraded thermobaric or fuel-air system produces a high-temperature 
incendiary blast that creates a long period of intense heat at low 
pressure, preventing the dispersal of poisonous agents. The warhead also 
produces a disinfectant chlorine gas that further minimises the risk of 

Perhaps the most useful new toy in the Pentagon's Christmas sack is a 
threedimensional computer simulation of the streets of Baghdad, complete 
with all known Iraqi military locations and satellite positioning 
co-ordinates. The 3D imagery is being studied by military commanders as 
they plan possible scenarios for a ground assault on the city.

The combination of overwhelming firepower and technological expertise helps 
explain why so many Pentagon officials are convinced that the battle for 
Baghdad will prove a walkover.

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